Rating: 3 / 5
New for spring/summer 2011, I was really excited about the Camp Xenon 4 poles. They looked like the best value/weight option on the market, so I was really excited to try them out. The 120cm poles spec at 9.9 oz, but the pair I received came in a 8.7 oz on my scales, which was awesome. The four-part, fixed length poles collapse down to 12.6", making them small enough to easily fit INSIDE a backpack and easy to take anywhere when traveling by plane.
Retail is $70, and I found mine on sale for $50, putting them as the best price/weight on the market, and without any twist/lock mechanisms to break or get crudded up with dirt/dust, I assumed these would be incredibly durable.
As it is, when I got them in the mail, I was psyched. However, after spending a few seconds setting them up (they work a lot like tent poles -- there is a cord that runs down the middle and you just insert the pieces together and pull the cord taught), I was really disappointed with how they FELT while in use.
Just walking around my apartment, I got annoyed by them. the construction, even when pulled as tight as possible, results in a "loose," flexible feel to the poles. You know the feeling when you are walking with a partially full water bottle in your hand and you can feel the water shifting back and forth, back and forth, and you can feel that weight shifting? The poles feel like that. There is something about their construction that causes a similar shift (though less pronounced) all down the frame of the pole. I don't know if it's just a bad fit on this pair or not. I ordered them online, so I will be returning this pair and will not be trying another set.
The poles are also incredibly flexy/bendy -- moreso than other poles I have used. And the combination of the feel of "weight shifting" inside the pole, and the pronounced flex make these inadequate for the trail, IMHO.
Based on their construction, I have no doubt they would work well in terms of function and durability -- I just didn't like them at a tactile level. They aren't enjoyable to use. And no matter how cheap, lightweight, compact and practical they are, if they aren't enjoyable to use, I won't use them.
So these are going on the return shelf. I'd love to hear other user's opinions to learn if this is just me, or if this is a typical experience in using these poles.